President Donald Trump’s first 100 days were — Well, there’s a reason they’re the only part of his presidency no one can remember. He accomplished next to nothing, visited no countries and set the stage for the worst four years in recent American history.
The convention of predicting a president’s success by their first 100 days began with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1933. He set a record for the number of major legislative acts and swift actions taken within his first 100 days and set a standard for all future presidents to be measured against.
Unfortunately for some, the first 100 days were — a rough transition. Take William Henry Harrison, for example, who caught pneumonia at his own inauguration in March of 1841, all because he wouldn’t trim his excruciatingly long inaugural speech and couldn’t be bothered to put on a jacket. He died 31 days later.
And what about James A. Garfield, who was shot in the fourth month of his term because an unemployed member of his party thought he was owed a job as a civil servant? So much for the spoils system — Garfield’s main legacy now is being the only member of the House of Representatives to have served as president. Trump’s pre-presidential occupation can be construed as similarly unique: he is the only self-proclaimed real-estate tycoon to be elected president.
John F. Kennedy launched the infamously ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion in his first 100 days; Trump’s issue, on the other hand, wasn’t so much action as it was inaction.
And we can’t forget Gerald Ford, who used one of the first chances he ever got to exercise his power as president to pardon disgraced former President Richard Nixon. Everyone knows pardoning is Trump’s preferred course of action — within a few months in office, he began a protracted chain of pardoning racist criminals.
Another notable president, Ronald Reagan, announced the release of U.S. diplomats on his first day in office. To be fair, Biden’s released a hostage too: Dr. Anthony Fauci.
In fact, one of Biden’s first actions was to allow Fauci to do his job and help our country through this seemingly endless COVID-19 pandemic. Fauci can now disclose scientific information from qualified individuals who are conducting real research. He was also selected by Biden to be the head of America’s delegation to the World Health Organization. Oh, and he’s also apparently the highest-paid federal employee.
Biden has signed 42 executive orders so far, among them orders implementing significant changes for the COVID-19 response as well as many important economy, environment, equity and immigration-centered orders, some of which are specially targeted to help those left floundering by the Trump administration’s policies.
Biden’s first few weeks contrast sharply even with Trump’s first few months, even though Trump inherited a strong economy and no deadly pandemic. In Trump’s first 100 days, he passed little major legislation and signed only 24 executive orders.
Like most schoolyard bullies, Trump tried to ally himself with the biggest and the baddest throughout his presidency. Or rather, the greatest, the smartest and the most fantastically dictatorial and autocratic leaders.
Putin and Trump were like Tweedledee and Tweedledum if both were mercurial, had access to weapons of mass destruction and were hell-bent on law and order except when it benefited them. A Confederate flag was flown in the capital for the first time ever. Let that sink in.
To his credit, Trump tried his best to start World War III. But he just wasn’t good enough. The aircraft carrier in the Suez Canal wasn’t inflammatory enough — if he wanted to make a statement, he should really have sent five. And why only assassinate Qasem Souleimani when he could have gone for Ayatollah Khomeini too?
Speaking of war-mongerers, Kim Jong Un and Trump were like Timon and Pumba. Their similarities went beyond their love for bombs and ridiculous posturing; they were both delusional about the state their constituents were in. And they both loved ineffectual summits at extravagant resorts. Maybe they just spent negotiations over daiquiris by the pool.
With any luck, and the whole world knows we need it, Biden will be more sensible in his choice of friends. He is known for working across the aisle and seems to have at least a baseline of respect for and from most of the senators — something we shouldn’t take for granted after the last four years.
His cabinet also isn’t made up of criminals and criminal-sympathizers, so that’s a plus. We’ll see how much of his time is spent working and how much is spent golfing and whether his family replaces the majority of his advisers.
Trump’s presidency ended particularly poorly, but I think it represented most of his term pretty adequately — with violence, malice, rampant misinformation and flagrant lies.
With that said, good riddance.